CLEVELAND, Ohio - The Cleveland State women's soccer team opened practice for the 2013 season on Wednesday morning at Krenzler Field. Under the direction of head coach Derrek Falor, the Vikings welcomed back 15 letterwinners and eight starters from last year's squad.
2013 SEASON PREVIEW
The 2013 season marks the 10th anniversary of the Cleveland State women's soccer program and head coach Derrek Falor believes this is the deepest team he has had with close to 20 players capable of drawing a starting assignment. That depth should lead to a bigger rotation this year to help keep players healthier as the season wears on.
The mix includes a number of veterans as well as newcomers who Falor believes will have an immediate impact on the program. The goal this year is to play at a faster tempo, utilizing 20 to 22 players per match and not burning anyone out during the first few weeks of the season
"This is a deep roster and there won't be a drop off from the starters to reserves at each position," Falor said. "There will be times this year when we substitute three or four at a time, but that will help us keep players fresh and reduce the amount of minutes everyone plays.
"We want to play at a faster tempo this year and defend with
pressure. In order to do that, each player is going to have to
bring something to the field when called upon and I think we will
see our subs having a larger impact on games this year with the
energy they will be expected to bring."
Sophomore Sarah Wood is the most experienced goalkeeper in the program, having played in 17 matches with 14 starts in her two years at CSU. Wood, who missed all but two games with a knee injury in 2011, started 12 matches last season, recording 61 saves and a .693 save percentage.
"Sarah has all the physical tools to be one of the top goalkeepers in the league," Falor said. "She is technically very sound."
A pair of freshmen, Sierra Davis and Jane Piontkowski, will also battle for minutes in the net. Davis missed her senior season at South Park H.S. after a knee injury, but posted a 62-7-5 mark with 52 shutouts during her career. An all-state pick as a junior, she allowed just 34 goals over three seasons.
"Sierra and Jane are both very good goalkeepers," Falor said.
"They bring a lot of energy to the field, have good lateral
movement and communicate very well."
The CSU defense returns several key pieces, including senior three-year starter Frederike Dubeau who will anchor the backline. One of the most physical defenders in the Horizon League, Dubeau was one of just three players to start all 17 matches last year and has started all but one of her 54 career matches.
"Freddy has been playing back in Washington this summer and the environment has been great for her," Falor said. "She will be moving back to a role as a center back that fits her better and will allow her to play pressure free."
Also returning to the backline as a center back next to Dubeau is junior Sabrina Abram, who has started 19 of the 22 career matches she has played in.
"Sabrina was never able to get fully healthy last year, but had a much better spring," Falor said. "She is as fit as anyone and was very assertive and took control in the spring."
The quartet of Chloe Fadenholz, Kelcey Fischer, Jen Jankowski and Samantha Sarmento give Falor a number of options to combine at outside back, a position he wants to see be more dynamic this year, especially on the attack.
"We will have the ability to experiment in the preseason and find the right combination that can drive the attack," Falor said. "We want to take more risks this year and push the outside backs up and into one-on-one attacks against defenders to put pressure on the opponent. Each of the four players bring something different to the field and I am excited to see how this evolves."
Fadenholz played in 16 matches last year, making eight starts and ranked fifth on the team with five points on two goals and one assist. Fischer played 12 matches last year, scoring three goals. That came on the heels of Fischer playing in all 19 matches with 16 starts as a freshman.
Jankowski returns to the lineup after a knee injury cost her all but seven games last year. She was a first team All-Ohio selection as a senior at Medina H.S. wen she was regarded as one of the top defenders in the state. Sarmento saw action in four matches with one start last season, tallying the assist in CSU's 1-0 win over Duquesne.
Freshman Elise Sailors, who joined the team in mid-September last year but didn't play in any matches, was very impressive in the spring and will push for time.
"Elise has been a very pleasant surprise for us," Falor said. "She has a very positive attitude and is very consistent."
Sophomore Megan Zidonis, as well as freshmen Grace Condit and Marissa Sarsfield, will also vie for time. An all-league pick as a senior, Sarsfield helped Springdale H.S. to the state semifinals three times in her career, while Condit was a first team all-league selection as a senior at Springboro H.S.
Falor will combine a talented group of returnees with a solid batch of underclassmen to form the midfield nucleus.
Headlining the group is junior Shea Levi, an all-newcomer team selection as a freshman, who has handled the central midfield position during her first two seasons. She has started 30 of her 34 career matches, amassing two goals and one assist.
"Shea is very good at possessing the ball and setting up people in the attack," Falor said. "She is a very good facilitator and this role works very well for her because she is able to get any number of players going offensively."
Falor and his staff will need to find who compliments Levi on the field, but with sophomores Allie Sieradzki, Erin O'Toole and freshman Megan Barrick capable of filling the role, Falor is excited to see how it plays out.
"This will be an interesting battle because all three players bring something different to the field," Falor said. "Allie and Erin are physical and can play on both ends of the field and Megan is extremely polished for a freshman. We need someone who is a little more defensive minded and can do some grunt work. Our goal in the preseason is to mix some different combinations and see what works best for us."
Sieradzki is a physical presence who can work from box to box. Last season, she scored one goal while just scratching the surface of collegiate soccer. O'Toole is another physical player who was a key member of CSU's defense last year, playing in 16 matches with nine starts.
Barrick was a team captain as a senior at Gahanna H.S., helping her team to a league and district titles as a junior.
Mesaros has not been able to get on the field during her two
years in the program because of injuries, but does provide the
squad with experience.
Falor has manned the program with a ton of offensive firepower up front with the hopes of improving on the 22 goals scored last season.
The group of senior Taylor Vidovic, junior Amanda Sivic, sophomore Vickie Havas and freshmen Sarah Kaiser and Haleigh Shingary will be the driving force behind scoring points this year and will fight for the four starting spots during the preseason.
A second team all-league selection as a sophomore when she scored seven goals, Vidovic garnered much of the attention from opposing defenses last season, but still managed to dish out three assists. Her eight career goals are tied for sixth most all-time at CSU. Miller has played in 33 matches with eight starts in her career, scoring one goal.
Sivic will add a fresh face up front as she returns to Cleveland after spending two years at Dayton where she played in 22 games. A two-time All-Ohio honoree at Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Sivic earned conference MVP honors as a senior.
"Amanda will be one of the best attackers we have had in the program," Falor said. "She is happy to be here and already has two years of experience playing collegiate soccer. She has seen a lot and knows what it takes to be successful at this level."
Havas earned a spot on the Horizon League All-Newcomer team last season when she ranked second in the league in assists (5) and fourth in goals (5) and points (15). She managed at least one point in eight of the 15 matches she appeared in.
"Vickie will have a little more freedom this year and the hope is to let her be a little more creative with the ball," Falor said. "She will not inhabit just one spot on the field this year and when she has the ball at her feet and space, she has the potential to be extremely dangerous."
Shingary was one of the top players during the preseason last year, but had her season cut short when she injured her knee in an exhibition contest. She had a very successful high school career at Holy Name, scoring 32 career goals and earning all-conference honors four times.
Kaiser could prove to be the wild card up front. A scoring machine at Mercyhurst Prep, she concluded her career as the all-time leader in goals (105) and assists (74) in program history. As a senior, she was the District 10 Player of the Year and an all-state pick after totaling 32 goals and 28 assists. She led her squad to a 22-0-3 mark and a state championship as a sophomore and was a four-time all-region selection and three-time all-region honoree.
"Sarah's high school career speaks for itself and she will add scoring punch to our attack right away," Falor said. "She is a clinical finisher and can score in a variety of ways around the goal. I expect her to have an impact for us from day one."
Miller has played in 33 games during her career with eight starts and tallied one goal and one assist.
Strahorn is a speedster who scored two goals as a freshman, while Koester played in 11 contests last year, including starts in the final two games. She scored her first career goal in a win over Francis Marion.
Sargema arrives at CSU after scoring 30 career goals and earning all-league honors twice at Canyon Country H.S. in California, while Stroh was part of an Upper Arlington H.S. squad that captured a district title her sophomore year.